This colourful science centre in Mechelen offers more than 280 interactive exhibits that help kids (and adults) grasp the scientific concepts behind everyday objects and phenomena. The interactive activities are grouped around seven themes, such as Air/Wind, Space Travel and Waterside. The newest exhibits allow children to fly a solar-powered plane and to collect, sort, shred and process waste.
If you visit on a dry day, Technopolis also promises a “scien-terrific” outdoor experience in the Science Garden, with exhibits with names like pump flute, bascule bridge and kaleidoscope. The whole exhibition is available in Dutch, English and French, and the restaurant’s name is Gigabyte.
Located in Meise, just three kilometres north of the Atomium, the garden offers 92 hectares of greenery (that’s the equivalent of about 120 football fields), Belgium’s largest greenhouse and a collection of rare plants – including tropical species and remarkable collections of African plants. The garden hosts a range of special activities during the summer.
Are you called Victor, Victoire or Victoria? If so, you’re lucky to bear the same name as the giant waterlily species Victoria amazonica. You’ll be rewarded with a free admission ticket any day in July and August. Every summer Sunday and public holiday, a horse-drawn carriage awaits all visitors for a hop-on, hop-off tour that will take them from the main entrance to the plant palace, through the glasshouse and the orangery and back again, at no extra charge. Departures are scheduled every hour from 13.00 to 17.00.
Until 24 October, the garden presents an exhibition of wildlife photography, displayed in large trunks filled with inspiring pictures of plants and animals by award-winning Flemish photographer and globe-trotter Tom Linster. On 26 and 28 August, you can not only meet the artist but get to know him very well during a day-long photography workshop at the garden. It offers the chance to explore the beauties of the garden as well as the capabilities of your camera beyond the automatic settings. The workshop (€99) also includes a year-long membership to the garden and refreshments. Dutch speakers and English speakers are equally welcome.
At the very end of the summer season, on 30 September, the garden organises an unforgettable night evening from 17.00 to 22.00. Discover the magic of the garden after dark, culminating in a visit to the candlelit greenhouses.
Back in the mighty metropolis, there is still plenty of life brimming on the asphalt. The Natural Sciences Institute in Brussels celebrates the International Year of Biodiversity with a citywide safari for budding explorers. Register on the website, print the map and questionnaire, grab your camera, and off you go!
There are 50 stop-off points spread across Brussels and riddles to solve at each point that help you uncover an overlooked wealth of plant and animal life in the city. You can take it earnestly and aim for one of the prizes (including a romantic botanic weekend in Paris) or opt for a more leisurely pace, just for the pleasure of the game. The contest closes on 31 August, and website and game documents are available in Dutch, French and English.
The institute’s museum, meanwhile, hosts the exhibition Whales and Dolphins this summer, in addition to its permanent displays. The Paleo- LAB (near the dinosaur gallery) invites accompanied children over five to a 45-minute palaeontologist role play using drawings, maps, puzzles and audiovisuals, but also a good old shovel and brush, to study real fossils. Advance booking is necessary, and, upon request, PaleoLAB animators can run the session in English.
The enormous Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren makes for one of Belgium’s most rewarding day trips, with its magnificent park, elegant building, outdoor elephant sculptures and special exhibitions. This year, the museum celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Congo’s independence with several temporary exhibitions. Congo River is particularly suited for family visits – younger visitors can get hold of a roadmap to discover the secrets of the river and can follow the riverbed with interactive activities, a labyrinth, storytelling, drawings and a giant board game.
The museum organises a range of summer activities, including workshops of African music that teenagers will love and Feel Africa! workshops for visually impaired visitors. Children will also enjoy special audioguides that make animals and masks talk throughout the exhibition rooms. Kids between seven and 12 can even hold their birthday parties at the museum – the party pack includes a workshop of African percussions for the group.
Near the Atomium, the Planetarium offers a moment of contemplative grace and cosmic beauty. This summer, the Planetarium launches a new 30-minute show called At the Edge of the Universe, every Wednesday at 15.00 in English. The show shares some of the revelations of cutting-edge space telescopes that explore the depths of the cosmos and study the birth of stars and planets, as well as the origins of the universe. During the school holidays, the Planetarium also offers a selection of shows throughout the week in French, Dutch and German.